**** (4 stars)
Fast-paced urban fantasy with twin demon-hunters Sarah and Shaun Gallows. I enjoyed the characters, especially the squeamish-yet-curmudgeonly Shaun. For me, this is a winning combination in male main characters, and Shaun alone made the book for me. The other characters are also well-drawn and engaging. The book is set in an alternate-universe Scotland, and I enjoyed the Scottish slang used throughout. This isn’t just a generic could-be-anywhere story.
The story involves Sarah and Shaun’s attempts to figure out what the vicious Melissa is up to, whether she needs to be stopped, and how to stop her. There are also subplots involving Sarah and Shaun’s complicated love lives (Shaun appears to be soul-mated to Melissa, and Sarah has two guys who are best buddies both wanting her, and an eye for a much younger guy as well). Also vampires. Lots of vampires. (Reason #573 why you might want to have a locked cage in your basement: to keep the vampire in.) I did feel like the story could have used more of a sense of urgency or rising stakes (no pun intended; if you’ve read it, you know what I mean!) as it progressed to the end; the problem to be solved was the same as it had been since about the middle of the book, with no greater or rising threats to the main characters as the end drew closer, until the very very end. There were also times when the action seemed to skip ahead or to a different setting without transition, and I couldn’t quite figure out what was going on.
One other thing, the protagonists are 19 years old, but this is definitely not a YA book. The protagonists act as adults in their world, have adult lives and adult interests and concerns, and the book deals with adult themes in an adult manner. Which for me is a plus, but someone looking for a less-intense YA read might get more than they bargained for here.
A fun read, and I’m looking forward to more adventures with Shaun and Sarah.